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Here’s the Forecast for Retail Sales This Year

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Consumers are “in the driver’s seat.”

Retail industry sales are likely to grow between 3.7 and 4.2 percent this year over 2016, according to a new forecast from the National Retail Federation.

“The economy is on firm ground as we head into 2017 and is expected to build on the momentum we saw late last year,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “With jobs and income growing and debt relatively low, the fundamentals are in place and the consumer is in the driver’s seat. But this year is unlike any other – while consumers have strength they haven’t had in the past, they will remain hesitant to spend until they have more certainty about policy changes on taxes, trade and other issues being debated in Congress.
“Lawmakers should take note and stand firm against any policies, rules or regulations that would increase the cost of everyday goods for American consumers,” Shay said.

Online and other non-store/online sales, which are included in the overall number, are expected to increase between 8 and 12 percent, according to NRF.

The economy is expected to gain an average of approximately 160,000 jobs a month. The number is down slightly from 2016 but consistent with labor market growth.

Unemployment is expected to drop to 4.6 percent by the end of the year.

Economic growth is likely to be in the range of 1.9 to 2.4 percent.

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“Prospects for consumer spending are straightforward – more jobs and more income will result in more spending,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “Regardless of sentiment, the pace of wage growth and job creation dictate spending. Our forecast represents a baseline for the year, but potential fiscal policy changes could impact consumers and the economy. It seems unlikely that businesses will notably increase investment until tax reform and trade policies are well-defined.”

Retail industry sales as defined by NRF include most traditional retail categories including non-store sales, discounters, department stores, grocery stores, specialty stores, and auto parts and accessories stores but exclude sales at automotive dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants.

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State Bill Would Ban Pet Leasing

A few other states already have similar laws.

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A proposed law in Connecticut would ban the practice of pet leasing.

The legislation seeks to outlaw leases in which the new pet owners accept high interest rates and believe they are agreeing to a payment plan, the Connecticut Post reports.

Such agreements open the possibility of the pet being repossessed at a later date, according to the publication.

The state Senate approved the ban last week. The proposed legislation will now be considered in the state House.

Bob Duff, a Democrat serving as Senate majority leader, said: “As a pet owner myself, I could never imagine leasing a pet and then after six or nine months or whatever it is, giving it back. They might actually think they own the pet instead of leasing the pet.”

According to the Post, pet leasing has already been banned in Nevada, California and New York.

The Connecticut proposal would still allow for certain types of pet leases, including “those for breeding purebred dogs, renting show animals or obtaining guide or law enforcement dogs,” according to the Post.

Find out more at the Connecticut Post 

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Chewy to Open $55M Facility, Creating 1,200 Jobs

It’s planning a fulfillment center.

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Chewy, an online pet supply retailer, has selected Rowan County, NC, for its new fulfillment center, with plans to create 1,200 new jobs and invest $55 million.

“Chewy selected North Carolina because from our infrastructure to our workforce, we have everything businesses need to succeed,” said Gov. Roy Cooper. “These new jobs will make a positive impact on Rowan County and the surrounding area.”

The e-commerce company will locate in Salisbury, NC.

Chewy is dually headquartered in Dania Beach, FL, and Boston, MA. It has customer service centers in Dallas, TX, and Hollywood, FL, and eight fulfillment centers around the country.

“We’re excited to expand Chewy’s fulfillment operations to North Carolina, our first in the state and ninth in the country,” said Pete Krilles, vice president, corporate real estate and facilities, for Chewy. “We greatly appreciate the partnership with the City of Salisbury, Rowan County, the Salisbury-Rowan Economic Development Commission, North Carolina Department of Commerce, and the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina.

“We look forward to making a positive economic contribution to the region with the creation of 1,200 new jobs. In addition to job creation, our new fulfillment center will enhance our delivery network across the southeastern United States, allowing us to better service Chewy customers with even faster delivery times.”

“Companies like Chewy will find success in North Carolina because we have a strong workforce and desirable business climate,” said Secretary of Commerce Anthony M. Copeland. “Pair that with our location and quality of life and you’ve got a winning formula.”

The North Carolina Department of Commerce and the Economic Development Partnership of NC were instrumental in supporting the company’s expansion decision.

A performance-based grant of $166,650 from the One North Carolina Fund will support the creation of 150 of the new jobs, facilitating Chewy’s establishment of the facility in North Carolina. The One NC Fund provides financial assistance to local governments to help attract economic investment and to create jobs. Companies receive no money upfront and must meet job creation and capital investment targets to qualify for payment. All One NC grants require a matching grant from local governments and any award is contingent upon that condition being met.

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Pet Store Chain Files for Bankruptcy

Its owner died in January.

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Petland Discounts, a chain that operated in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey, has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

The action follows the January death of the company’s owner, Neil Padron.

The company has closed its stores.

Notices with each of the three states’ labor departments indicated that more than 300 jobs could be lost across 70 store locations.

The bankruptcy petition was filed in New York Eastern Bankruptcy Court.

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Padron started the business in 1965. He died of bladder cancer on Jan. 14.

Details of the bankruptcy case are available here.

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